Open Access Open Badges Short report

Aural myiasis in a neonate in peninsular Malaysia

Nazni Wasi Ahmad1*, Anuar Ismail2, John Jeffery3, Sa'diyah Ibrahim1, Azahari Abdul Hadi1, Mohd Noor Ibrahim1, Heo Chong Chin4 and Lee Han Lim1

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Entomology Unit, Infectious Diseases Research Centre, Institute For Medical Research, Jalan Pahang 50588, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2 Kedah State Vector Control Program, 1474, Taman Uda, Jalan Sultanah 05350, Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia

3 Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya, 50600 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

4 Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Teknologi MARA, 40450 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia

For all author emails, please log on.

Parasites & Vectors 2009, 2:63  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-2-63

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Received:29 September 2009
Accepted:15 December 2009
Published:15 December 2009

© 2009 Ahmad et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Myiasis is a pathological condition in humans and animals caused by various species of dipterous larvae. Myiasis which occurs in a newborn baby is referred as neonatal myiasis. It is a rare condition and there are only a few reports to date. A case of neonatal aural myiasis in a two day old infant is reported in this paper.


The first documented case of human myiasis in Malaysia was by Reid [1] of a male who had an ulcer on his big toe infested with the green bottle, Chrysomya bezziana. A review on all human cases of myiasis in Malaysia up to 1984 were classified according to Zumpt's nomenclature [2,3]. Only a few cases of myiasis have been reported in Malaysia but this could be due to a lack of documentation. In Malaysia, thus far, only 3 cases of aural myiasis have been described [4-6]. In this paper we report the fourth case of aural myiasis in a 2 day old infant in Malaysia [7].

A two day old male infant from Alor Setar, State of Kedah, was discharged from a private specialist medical centre and brought back home. The child was observed to cry often and the parents subsequently brought him to the hospital for medical examination. It was discovered that the left ear was inflamed. On close examination, the medical officer found moving objects in the ear. The objects were carefully removed using fine forceps and were confirmed to be maggots. No damage to the ear drum was observed. After removing the maggots and administration of appropriate medication, the child was discharged. Four maggots in 70% alcohol were sent to the Medical Entomology Unit, Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur. The specimens were processed for study and identification according to standard procedures [8]. The specimens were examined under a microscope at 400× magnification.

Based on the presence of two respiratory slits each in the posterior spiracles, the 4 maggots were identified as second stage maggot of the fly family Sarcophagidae. An important gross taxonomic feature in this family is the nature of the posterior spiracle which is located within a depression/pit at the posterior end of the maggot (Figure 1). Additionally, the maggots were easily recognized as a species of Sarcophagidae by the following features: (i) by the possession of thin incomplete peritreme with respiratory slits directed away from the opening (Figure 2), and (ii) the cephalopharyngeal armature having split dorsal cornu (Figure 3). Flies of this family are larviparous in habit i.e. laying first stage larvae instead of eggs. The mean body length of these larvae was 3.0 ± 0.1 mm indicating that the minimum age of this larvae at the time of removal was at least 12-23 hours old. No attempt was made to identify the specimens to species level as males are needed for this purpose. The adults of these flies can be considered as facultative myiasis producers which opportunistically infest the wounds or body cavities of the host. Human cases of facultative myiasis caused by members of this family Sarcophagidae (Diptera) have been found throughout the world [2,9-11]

thumbnailFigure 1. Posterior spiracle (PS) within a depression/pit of Sarcophagidae.

thumbnailFigure 2. Spiracles of a second stage larvae showing 2 slits and incomplete peritreme directed away from opening.

thumbnailFigure 3. Picture showing cephalopharyngeal armature with split dorsal cornu.

Occurrence of infestation may be due to a gravid female being attracted to odour emanating from the ear. The presence of these larvae could also indicate that the neonate probably acquired the infestation while in the hospital prior to being discharged. The first case of auricular myiasis in Malaysia was from a ten year old Indian girl infested with third instar larvae of Chrysomya megacephala [4]. The second case was a 41 year old Malay woman from a lower socio-economic environment. The maggots were third instar larvae of the fly Chrysomya bezziana [5], while in the third case Chrysomya bezziana larvae were also recovered from a 41 year old aborigine male [6]. Aural myiasis in adults infested by Sarcophagidae (Diptera) have been reported in other parts of the world [12,13]. This is the first report of an infant being infested with a species of Sarcophagidae in Malaysia. Myiasis patients should be treated immediately by removing the maggots from the infested area. Although aural and ocular myiasis can be dangerous, they can be treated effectively in neonates with topical and systemic therapies [14].

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

NWA, AI, JJ and LHL conceived the paper and wrote the manuscript SI, AAH, MNI and HCC assisted in laboratory studies.


The authors wish to acknowledge the Director General of Health, Malaysia, and the Director, Institute for Medical Research, for permission to publish.


  1. Reid JA: Notes on house flies and blow flies in Malaya, Kuala Lumpur: Malaya.

    Bull Inst Med Res 1953, 7:26. OpenURL

  2. Zumpt F: Myiasis in man and animals in the Old World.

    London, Butterworths 1965, 267. OpenURL

  3. Oothuman P, Jeffery J: Human myiasis in Malaysia-a review.

    J Malaysian Soc Health 1984, 4:53-6. OpenURL

  4. Lee HL, Yong YK: Human aural myiasis.

    Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health 1991, 22:274-5. PubMed Abstract OpenURL

  5. Johari S, Khanijow VK: A case of aural myiasis caused by Chrysomya bezziana Villeneuve,1914 (Diptera:Calliphoridae), the old world screw worm.

    Trop Biomed 1993, 10:149-52. OpenURL

  6. Rohela M, Jamaiah I, Amir L, Nissapatorn V: A case of auricular myiasis in Malaysia.

    Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health 2006, 37(suppl 3):91-4. PubMed Abstract OpenURL

  7. Koh TH: Neonatal myiasis: a case report and a role of the Internet.

    J Perinatol 1999, 19(7):528-9. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  8. Lee HL, Abdullah AA, Cheong WH: The use of fly larvae from human corpses in determining the time of death: A review and some technical cosiderations.

    Journal of Medical and Health Laboratory Technology of Malaysia 9:15-17. OpenURL

  9. James MT: The flies that cause myiasis in man.

    USDA Misc Pub. No. 631 1947, 175. OpenURL

  10. Lee DJ: Human myiasis in Australia.

    Med J Aust 1968, 1:170-73. PubMed Abstract OpenURL

  11. Norris KR: Myiasis in human.

    Med J Aust 1989, 150:235-37. PubMed Abstract OpenURL

  12. Cho JH, Kim HB, Cho CS, Huh S, Ree HI: An aural myiasis case in a 54-year-old male farmer in Korea.

    Korean J Parasitol 1999, 37(1):51-3. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text | PubMed Central Full Text OpenURL

  13. Panu F, Cabras G, Contini C, Onnis D: Human auricolar myiasis caused by Wohlfartia magnifica (Schiner) (Diptera: Sarcophagidae): first case found in Sardinia.

    J Laryngol Otol 2000, 114(6):450-2. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  14. Cetinkaya M, Ozkan H, Köksal N, Coşkun SZ, Hacimustafaoğlu M, Girişgin O: Neonatal myiasis: a case report.

    Turk J Pediatr 2008, 50(6):581-4. PubMed Abstract OpenURL